Joseph - Spirit-led

Al Cariño
Reproduced with Permission

Some time ago, I came across a story of a priest who spoke only about confession in his homilies. One day, a parishioner told him that the people were fed up with his "Confession homilies" and they were asking that he please preach on other topics.

At his next Mass, he did as asked. It happened to be Labor Day and as we know, St. Joseph is the Patron of Workers. So he talked about St. Joseph. He started thus: "St. Joseph was a carpenter and he worked daily in his carpentry shop. He did his work as best he could because he did it out of love for God. Thus he made sure that God's glory and beauty was somehow reflected in his work. He made chairs and tables. He also repaired broken furniture brought by people. Finally, he made confessional boxes. And talking about confessional boxes,..." the priest then went on to talk about confession again. His parishioners just shook their heads in resignation.

As we celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph as husband of Mary, we see the evangelist Matthew going through great lengths to show that Jesus came into the world through a virgin birth (Mt. 1: 16, 18-22, 24). He began with Mary as betrothed to Joseph. But before they lived together, she was found with child. Confronted with Mary's condition, Joseph underwent a severe crisis. As a devout observer of the law, he was obliged to report the case to the authorities which meant death for Mary. But being "a righteous man," he was also concerned with Mary's welfare. He was sure that he was not responsible for her pregnancy. And knowing Mary, he was also sure that she never had an illicit relationship with another man. So he decided "to divorce her quietly" and thus save her from certain death.

But this "inspired" decision of Joseph was not acceptable to God since, in His plan for our salvation, Joseph had an important role. Thus, He intervened. In a dream, an angel told Joseph about the mystery that surrounded Mary's pregnancy: that she conceived "through the Holy Spirit" and was to become the mother of the Father's Son. So when he woke up, he did as the angel had commanded him and "took his wife into his home," though "he had no relations with her until she bore a son." Matthew concluded his narrative with the words, "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: `Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,' which means `God is with us.'"

If there was one person that "deserved" to be the husband of Mary, it was Joseph. From the little we know about him in the gospels, one quality really stands out: he was Spirit-led, that is, he always followed the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. Thus he obeyed God's will in all things and did whatever needed to be done as best he could. We see this very clearly in his different roles within the Holy Family.

Just like most of us, Joseph lived a hidden life, that is, he only played background though very important roles. He had only one concern: to do God's will, specially to protect and provide for Mary and Jesus. Thus let us ask St. Joseph to help us reflect God's beauty and goodness in us and in all that we do and protect us from anything that may lead us away from God.